Lead Contamination: What You Need to Know

How do I find out if my water contains lead?

There are a few ways you may find out if your water contains lead. The first option would be to look at your pipes. The easiest access would be under your kitchen sink. If this is a metal pipe, scratch the pipe with a knife. If the scratch is silver, it is possible it is made of lead. From here, grab a magnet and see if the magnet sticks to the pipe. If it does not stick to the pipe, it is lead.

These pipes may be anything from your faucet, to your actual pipes, fittings, or solder joints. Despite whatever pipe it is, lead is not okay for your home! We recommend that you replace your lead pipes using a safer alternative, such as copper or plastic or polyvinyl chloride (PVC).

Another way to find out if your water contains lead would be to contact your home’s water supplier and ask for a lead test. These should be free of charge. You may also ask for a copy of the Consumer Confidence Report. Often times, water suppliers have these online. You can find them here.

If you would like to test for lead yourself, you are able to do so, but it is not recommended. These tests may not have correct accuracy. Because this is such a serious issue, we recommend you to utilize your water supplier and get professional help.

However, if you do wish to use an at-home kit, buy one from a home store. Test your tap by using water that has been sitting overnight, meaning wait until water has not been turned on or used for several hours, and then turn on the faucet to use the water that has been aggregating. This water is best for testing because it has been in the pipes longer.

Reasoning for this is because the longer water sits inside a pipe, the higher chance it has to corrode. This happens if the water is highly acidic or has low minerals.

You may send this to a lab for analysis, or you may simply trust the kit you bought. Many times, the test will turn a designated color if there is lead in your water.

How do I find out if paint in my home contains lead?

Homes built before 1978 often contain lead-based paint. There are several ways you can test for lead.

The first is the most accurate and recommended test: the lead-based paint inspection. This is when an inspector comes in and checks out all painted (and wall-papered) areas of your home, inside and out. From here, it’s taken to a lab and tested.

A risk assessment test only takes samples of chipping paint, paint that looks as if a child has been biting or licking, and dust and soil from your home. This assessment does not test all of your home, like the lead-based paint inspection. Only certain areas are tested, meaning there is still room for error.

A hazard screen is even less extensive than the risk assessment test. Samples of paint are taken from chipping areas and a dust sample is taken as well. No soil is tested unless there is reason to believe there may be lead contamination.

Again, at home lead tests are not strongly recommended. However, they work just the same as a water lead test (meaning the strip will change a designated color depending on lead levels).

Soil may be collected from your home because lead-based paint chips may have have fallen into the soil and contaminated it. Soil may also be contaminated through smelting, leaded gasoline, or other industrial causes.

Dust from your home is tested because it collects on certain areas that may have lead-based paint. This is just another way to test for lead.

Check out this link to find an inspector around you.

What else do I need to know about lead?

Lead is everywhere. It’s a scary thought, but it’s unfortunately true.

Often times, toys contain lead-based paint. Be mindful when purchasing toys for children and stay on top of news regarding lead in toys. Make sure children are not biting, licking, or putting toys in the mouth. If the toy contains lead, this is not beneficial for children.

There have been several recalls over the past decade in regard to lead-based toys. In 2007, popular toy company Fisher-Price recalled nearly 1 million toys. Again, be mindful of such toys and make sure to find out what these toys are made of.

There are several other ways lead can come into your home and affect you and your loved ones. Once again, working with lead-based paint is a risk. This includes renovation, battery recycling, refurnishing furniture, and automobile work.

Hobbies such as hunting, fishing, staining glass, painting and making pottery, and collecting or painting stock cars may be dangerous as well.

Reduce Your Risk

If you do not have the money to get rid of your lead plumbing system, you may take these alternative precautions instead.

These precautions include using cold water for cooking and drinking. Know that you cannot boil lead out of water. Conversely, it is okay to shower in contaminated water, as long as you do not swallow the water. Thankfully, skin cannot absorb lead. However, we do recommend that you run cold water for at least five minutes before showering.

To reduce the risk of being affected by lead-based paint, we recommend that shoes are taken off once entering a home to reduce the risk of being affected by contaminated soil. Keep your home clean and free of dust, vacuum often (and do not beat rugs!), mop floors weekly, and rid any paint chips around your home.

If you or a loved one works with lead-based paint, pack an extra bag of clothes to change into after work and before coming home.

Make sure to wash hands often, as many surfaces in your home may contain lead-based paint. Children need to have proper nutrition high in vitamin C, calcium, and iron.

Cilantro and garlic are also helpful in reducing lead from the body. These foods are high in sulfur, and sulfur oxidizes lead. Other high-sulfur foods are brussell sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, chives, onions, eggs, poultry, and nuts.

Cilantro can be added your cooking, but you may also add it into your water. Cilantro has the amazing ability to reach heavy metals that have been absorbed into the bone. This herb also aids in liver health, anemia, and nausea.

Please take all precautions provided and do your best to keep your home a safe and livable area! If you have any further questions, please contact Dr. Trowbridge and 1-800-FIX-PAIN (1-800-349-7246).

The easiest way to check your pipes is under a sink.

There are various types of pipe, however, lead is a no-go.

If you own an older home, be aware if your home has lead paint.

Getting an inspector to look at your home is your safest and best bet.

Toys often contain lead-based paint, especially those imported from outside the U.S.

Leaving shoes at the door helps track less soil, which may contain lead.


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